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Alternative Sentencing Options for Drug-Related Offenses

By San Diego Attorney on November 13, 2023

There are a lot of effective ways to protect society and prevent crime without sending people to jail. When someone has a substance abuse problem, they need help, not punishment. That’s why the state of California offers alternative sentencing options that provide sensible solutions to benefit everyone.

It’s very costly to put people in jail, and prison isn’t the best environment for providing the treatment and support a person needs to stop using drugs. Alternative sentencing allows people charged with drug crimes the opportunity to remain within the community while getting help to recover.

If you’re facing charges for possession or another nonviolent drug offense, your San Diego drug crime defense lawyer may be able to arrange alternative sentencing that can help you get your life back on track without having to serve jail time.

What Is Alternative Sentencing?

Alternative sentencing is when a person convicted of a crime completes their sentence in the community instead of serving time in jail or prison. Alternative sentencing may be part of a pretrial plea agreement that your defense negotiates with the judge and prosecutors.

Alternative sentencing agreements may be available for first-time offenders, people charged with misdemeanor or felony drug offenses, and repeat drug offenders. In fact, there are circumstances where the law requires courts to provide a treatment option for defendants convicted of drug offenses.

Alternative sentence options include:

  • Deferred entry, also referred to as Penal Code (PC) 1000, is available to defendants without a criminal record charged with misdemeanor or felony drug possession. Under deferred entry, the defendant makes a pretrial agreement with the court to avoid jail time by accepting certain conditions, including drug treatment, not receiving any new charges for 18 months, and other stipulations made by the judge. If the defendant meets all the conditions, the court will dismiss the charges, and the defendant won’t receive a criminal record.
  • Proposition 36. Unlike deferred entry, Proposition 36 allows qualifying defendants a probationary sentencing option after the defendant has been convicted of a nonviolent drug-related misdemeanor or felony. The provisions of Proposition 36 are more strict than deferred entry, and the defendant will be required to undergo 36 months of probation, which includes regular meetings with a probation officer.
  • Involuntary home detention may be available for drug offenders when county jail facilities are subject to overcrowding, and inmates may be allowed to serve a portion of their sentence confined to their homes using an electronic monitoring device.

There are several conditions that judges may require as part of an alternative sentencing program, including:

  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Community service
  • Random drug testing
  • In-patient drug rehabilitation treatment
  • Out-patient drug rehabilitation treatment
  • Maintaining gainful employment
  • Not being arrested while on probation
  • Attending Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings

The Benefits of Alternative Sentencing

Alternative sentencing can be a win-win situation that benefits both society at large and people charged with drug crimes. Building and maintaining prisons is very expensive, and anything we can do to safely reduce the number of people in jail will save taxpayers a lot of money. Many people would agree that it’s a good idea for our criminal justice system to focus on violent offenders.

It’s nice to see someone get a second chance. The advantages that alternative sentencing programs offer people charged with a drug offense include:

  • Reduced or revoked jail time
  • Rehabilitative support
  • Avoiding financial hardship
  • Strengthening family relationships
  • Protecting your reputation
  • Maintaining employment
  • Avoiding a criminal record

Are You Facing Drug Charges in San Diego?

James N. Dicks of jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist with 30 years of criminal justice experience. We are dedicated to helping you find the best strategy to avoid jail time.

Our San Diego firm has been recognized by the independent rating agency Super Lawyers for providing our clients with outstanding service. We are available to take your call 24/7.

Call (760) 630-2000 to schedule a FREE consultation today. We speak English and Spanish.

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Posted in: Drug Possession

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